The historic castle town of Iwakuni in Yamaguchi Prefecture is home to one of Japan’s most strikingly beautiful architectural specimens. Fashioned of timber using time-honored techniques, the Kintaikyo Bridge spans some 200 meters across the pristine waters of the Nishiki River. Its history dates back to 1673, when the lord of the Iwakuni domain ordered a bridge to be built over the river. Though the original structure was soon lost, it was replaced with a mighty structure that stood proud for two and a half centuries.
The present-day bridge was completed in 1953, after a vicious typhoon and roaring currents had washed away its beloved predecessor. Recreating the painstaking craftsmanship of Japan’s olden times, its five majestic arches are a marvel to behold in all seasons. From the cherry blossoms of the spring to the verdant greenery of summer, the burning red and golden foliage of autumn and the white snowscapes of winter, the stunning natural vistas are sure to take your breath away. After sundown, the bridge is illuminated to paint a scene of otherworldly beauty.
Though the bridge is a delightful destination year-round, visit during festival season for an added treat. Held on April 29 of each year, the Kintaikyo Festival features grand processions and traditional dances, and the Nishiki River Festival held on the first Saturday of August will enchant you with an elaborate riverside fireworks display. From June through August, you can also experience the traditional art of cormorant fishing in the waters beneath the bridge. It’s a can’t-miss site of scenic beauty and historical significance worthy of a place on any traveler’s itinerary.
Hours: The bridge is accessible 24 hours a day. The tourist office is open until 5:00 p.m. (6:00 or 7:00 p.m. for tourist season and extended summer hours, respectively). The bridge is illuminated from sundown until 10:00 p.m.
300 yen for adults, 150 yen for children elementary school age and younger.
*Discounted to 250 yen (adults) and 120 yen (elementary school age and younger) for groups of fifteen or more.
Address: 1 Iwakuni, Iwakuni City, Yamaguchi Prefecture (Iwakuni City Tourism Association)
Airport: Hiroshima Airport
Open year-round. (The bridge may be closed when the river is at high water, or during heavy rain, wind, or flooding.)
+81-827-41-2037 (Iwakuni City Tourism Association)
From Hiroshima Airport, take the airport limousine bus to Hiroshima Station (about 50 minutes). From there, take the Shinkansen Kodama to Shin-Iwakuni Station (about 15 minutes). The Kintaikyo Bridge is a 15-minute bus ride from the station.
Akiyoshidai and Akiyoshido
Rurikoji Temple’s Five-Storied Pagoda
Ube Biennale Art Walk and Sunrise at Kiwa la Beach
Tsunoshima Ohashi Bridge (Great Tsunoshima Bridge)
Hofu Tenmangu Shrine, Mohri Garden, Suo Kokubunji Temple, Amidaji Temple
Yanai City’s White-Wall Townscape
Hagi Castle Town and Hagi Meirin Gakusha (Historic Schoolhouse)